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The unsustainable 'give fish' model

MQONDISI DUBE
Chiefs amongst struggling clubs
There is a rising and dangerously unsustainable tendency where desperate BTC Premiership clubs are constantly being given fish. But these handouts have a short-life span, and instead, clubs should, learn how to fish to ensure their viability, argues Mmegi Sport's MQONDISI DUBE

There is scarcity of ‘fish’ in the local market, which has left clubs with no options but accept being spoon-fed.  It is hardly an ideal situation, but faced with crippling financial challenges, it has been the only way out.

Nearly all the 16 BTC Premiership clubs are out with their begging bowls, ready to accept whatever penny will drop into the bowl.

Local clubs have continually been given fish, and fed for a day, but they have not sufficiently or successfully managed to master the art of fishing, which will feed them for a lifetime. 

The teams, having to contend with dwindling revenues from the gates, a corporate sector tightening its budget strings, and a generally hostile operating environment, are left with few options.

When the begging bowl comes out, investors throw in fish, which will sustain them for a meal, and not beyond.

Gaborone United (GU), Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gilport Lions can painfully relate. Township Rollers, the envy of many with a bottomless budget, are not safe either as they are heavily reliant on club president, Jagdish Shah.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer, Mfolo Mfolo said it was critical for clubs to implement a blue print on commercialisation.

He described the prevailing situation as a ‘disgrace’ after successive teams brought inadequate squads for match days. 

The latest was GU, which only had eight players for their encounter against Police XI. Chiefs have done it, Gilport sustained the trend in December, and GU followed suit. All the clubs are faced with financial challenges.

“As the BFA, we developed a blue print and gave it to the Botswana Premier League. It is now up to them to implement it. (Maclean) Letshwiti has constantly made it clear that clubs should commercialise. We have given the Premier League the resources, including a blue print on commercialisation,” Mfolo said.

He said there are issues like economic control, which are important to the financial viability of clubs.

During a recent benchmarking tour of Spain’s

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La Liga, the Botswana delegation familiarised itself with a couple of models, which the Spanish clubs had adopted to ensure sustainability.

“They submit credible book of accounts intermittently. Locally, there must be integrity and our clubs should submit book of accounts. They should look at issues of ticketing, merchandise and the marketing aspect versus the prevailing culture on the ground,” Mfolo said.

Spain has the socio and outright models, the former which gives control to an investor, but with other existing supporting structures, while with the latter, the investor has total control of the club.

He said it is up to the Premier League to pick a model that suits them.

There has been an overwhelming consensus that societies are now outdated, and are no longer sustainable. Ownership wrangles within most clubs are down to the society arrangement, and the BFA was forced to develop a guiding document.

However, the fights persist, with no peace in sight at giants such as Chiefs and GU.

The transition has not been smooth, with a certain section of the clubs’ membership, understandably refusing to let go what they see as their heritage.

“Cool heads must prevail. Investors should know that these teams have a history and identity to protect. The club must continue to exist beyond the life of the investor,” Mfolo said.

Nicholas Zakhem, linked with a takeover at both GU and Chiefs, said societies should be abolished if there is to be progress.

Chiefs general manager, Clifford Mogomotsi equally said there is no room for societies, as the arrangement has proven unsustainable.

“When there is an investor, once they pull out, it is like switching off the life support system. We struggled when (Saeyd) Jamali and bo Letshwiti left. Look at what is happening at GU. Rollers is doing well but what will happen if Jagdish (Shah) leaves? Societies are no longer sustainable. If it is a company, there is smooth transition from one person to the other,” Mogomotsi said.



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